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Word Nerds Studying for AARP National Spelling Bee in WYO

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 By Deb CoursonContact
May 18, 2009

Cheyenne, WY – Some call themselves "word nerds," others prefer the term "wordsmith." Whatever they call themselves, they’re people gearing up for the 2009 AARP National Spelling Bee in Cheyenne next month. Early birds from all over the country have already signed up, including Kate Karp in Long Beach, California. She says her love of spelling is part of a lifetime of learning, which has included announcing at spelling bees for students. While some spellers actually read the dictionary to prepare, her study routine focuses on common spelling errors.

"I’ll look at certain parts of our language that are confusing, for example, the 'able' and 'ible' suffixes."

Karp made it to the finals last year.

Joe Dickmann in Richmond Heights, MO, has gathered together study lists; some he received when helping his kids in spelling bees when they were younger. He and his wife Carolyn are competing, and often spend evenings passing the dictionary back and forth.

"It’s so hit-and-miss. You could study 10,000 words and none of those would be in the bee, and then the one after where you stopped could be the one you get."

Carolyn Dickmann says, just knowing the English language isn’t enough, because all kinds of foreign words pop up during competition.

"The ones that really bug me are the Gaelic ones, because they don’t sound anything like they look."

All words in the Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Edition dictionary are fair game. The bee is June 20 and open to everyone age 50 and older, except previous winners.

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